Blog

Our blog isn’t about us. It’s about you. We discuss business challenges and real issues human service agencies and caseworkers face everyday. You’ll find traditional human services software articles about things like document management for human services and social work technology. But you’ll also find inspirational stories to boost caseworkers’ spirits and tools to help agencies find and gain support for technology in human services.

Posted Wednesday, April 29, 2020 by Team Northwoods

Navigate the New Normal: Q&A with Child Welfare Evangelist Rich Bowlen

It’s no secret the COVID-19 pandemic will impact child welfare for years to come. We asked our child welfare evangelist, Rich Bowlen, to share his insight on how agencies are adapting, what this means for child welfare in the future, and how to weather the long-term aftereffects of the storm.


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Posted Monday, April 27, 2020 by Team Northwoods

Software to Support Remote Work: 5 Ways Traverse Helps Child Welfare

Technology can never replace human interaction in child welfare. And it shouldn’t. Connecting with children and families is fundamental to improving outcomes and well-being.

The current COVID-19 pandemic has caused many child welfare agencies to quickly pivot to support a remote workforce, and enable people to connect and share important information in new and different ways. Some child welfare experts predict connecting remotely will become part of the new normal for child welfare through things like video chats, collaboration apps, or instant messaging tools.

Traverse, Northwoods’ child welfare software, is empowering remote work across the country today, while supporting caseworkers’ efforts to provide critical service delivery, in a variety of ways. Here are five best practices from agencies using Traverse.

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Posted Tuesday, April 21, 2020 by Team Northwoods

Reimagining Service Delivery in a Remote World (Q&A with Greg Tipping)

The COVID-19 pandemic is placing immediate and direct burden on economic assistance agencies tasked with handling an unprecedented uptick in applications for benefits.

We asked economic assistance evangelist, Greg Tipping, to share his insight on how agencies are adapting to remote work, how the pandemic is forcing leaders to reimagine the system, and the role modern technology will play in helping caseworkers manage the mountain of work headed their way.

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Posted Thursday, March 12, 2020 by Team Northwoods

Putting the 'Human' Back in Human Services Through Robotic Process Automation

Human services agencies are constantly fighting to make time for meaningful, high-value work with clients, while maintaining compliance and maximizing efficiency.

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Posted Tuesday, February 18, 2020 by Rupam Chokshi

An Introduction to Robotic Process Automation for Human Services

Government agencies are beginning to leverage an emerging technology, robotic process automation (RPA), to streamline tasks and reduce administrative burdens. GovLoop’s eBook dives into how RPA works and what makes it successful, plus provides six examples of RPA in action at the state level.

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Posted Wednesday, January 8, 2020 by Team Northwoods

Hey Alexa, How Will Human Services Technology Change in 10 Years?

For many, the new year signals a fresh start. A clean slate. The opportunity to think or act differently. What if we applied this same mindset to human services technology?

What if we stopped feeling restricted by outdated systems, processes, and policies, and focused instead on what we can do today that we couldn’t do in the past?

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Posted Friday, November 15, 2019 by Rupam Chokshi

Machine-Assisted Social Work: The Future of Child Welfare Technology

When I think about the future of social work, I see immense possibilities, broad impact, and extensive societal change.

Technology has potential to empower the child welfare practice in ways we’ve never considered before. The tools exist and are being used in other industries; now we need to think about how to apply them at the right time and in the right context to connect and inform the people delivering services.

This begs the question: how do we make this era of machine-assisted social work a reality?

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Posted Thursday, October 31, 2019 by Lauren Hirka

Don't Get Spooked by Artificial Intelligence for Child Welfare

Can artificial intelligence (AI) really help my caseworkers? Or is it all just a bunch of hocus pocus?

This is one of the most common questions we hear when introducing child welfare agencies to the concept of case discovery, which leverages AI. (Okay, maybe not the hocus pocus part … but come on, it’s Halloween!)

We interact with AI almost daily—think Siri, Alexa, or even your Roomba. It continues to gain traction in government and is seen as the emerging technology with the most potential by state chief information officers. Yet, the concept still seems scary in the context of child welfare.

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Posted Wednesday, October 23, 2019 by Team Northwoods

9 Tips for Financing Human Services Technology Projects

Editor's note: this post was originally published on August 15, 2017. We recently refreshed the list to give you twice the amount of helpful tips! 

Human services agencies face several hurdles when it comes to investing in technology.

Yet, even when resources are limited, it’s not impossible to come up with the money to purchase and maintain innovative technology solutions. (Plus, the short-term cost won’t seem so bad once you realize the long-term value of your investment!)

All it takes is a little upfront planning and creative thinking.

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Posted Monday, October 14, 2019 by Lauren Hirka

Designing Technology to Enhance Engagement & Meet Users Where They Are

At Northwoods, we are focused on starting with why. I believe starting with why provides a constant reminder for the team of the collective goal we are all working toward, which is ultimately to improve outcomes for children and families by empowering the practice.

To do this, we need to meet the user where they are—both physically, and in terms of practice.

As one of APHSA’s 2019 Emerging Leaders, I was invited to present a poster at the annual ISM conference showcasing a solution that Northwoods has implemented.

I chose to present on this topic, Meeting Users Where They Are, because it influences every solution and service we offer.

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